With a teary confession that he should have done more to investigate allegations that ex-defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky had molested a young boy in the team's showers, legendary Penn State coach Joe Paterno announced today he will stop down at the end of the season. Scandal aside, that means that for the first time in 46 years the head coaching job with the Nitanny Lions is open. Al Golden, current head coach of the Miami Hurricanes, and a Penn alum, is on the media's short list for the gig, but he is downplaying any rumors he's planning on leaving one scandal-plagued program for another.
"Clearly thoughts and prayers go out for the young people, the victims in this case, and certainly my prayers go out to coach, too," Golden told the media according to ESPN. "It's tough. I don't know much about it ... we're in the middle of Florida State week, but I'm just disheartened by the whole thing and saddened by it and keeping everybody in my thoughts and prayers from a distance."
Golden played with the Lions under Paterno in the late '80s and early '90s. As for the growing speculation that Golden may be up for the job, he says he plans to counter it with on the field action.
"We're going to counter it by playing well and preparing well and clearly we've gotten two commitments in the last 48 hours, and I think there's going to be another one here today or tomorrow," Golden said. "We're excited about what we're building here. I can't worry about what other people are saying. I think you know me well enough to know that I don't worry about the media. I'm just moving the team and our players forward and really trying to enjoy this, the fact we're in the middle of the Miami-Florida State week, to be honest with you."
That, however, is not exactly a flat out "No, I have no interest in the gig" denial.
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Sports content farm and expect web traffic trollers Bleacher Report have already asked, "Joe Paterno Retiring: Is the Al Golden Era Already over in Miami?" Though, they're not the only ones mulling the possibility.
"Golden would be despised by some in Miami if he left after just one season, but I think the feeling nationally would be that he was ambushed by the off-the-field issues he was forced to inherit, and be viewed as a sympathetic figure if he chose to leave," writes ESPN Florida's Mike Tuck. "Leaving a job he just started would be difficult nonetheless. And in some ways, he would be going from a bad situation, to a tricky situation."
Miami is still facing looming sanctions from the NCAA as a result of the Nevin Shapiro scandal. The almost tragic thing is, there's no news yet that the NCAA could investigate the situation at Penn State. It is, after all, more of a matter for actual law enforcement, but its sad the NCAA cares more about punishing a team because former players were taken advantage of by a twisted Ponzi schemer than a team where the coach molested young children.